altTHE LEANDER CLUB, whose members include Sir Steve Redgrave (pictured) and Sir Matthew Pinsent, are enjoying a recruitment boom after the success of Britain's rowing team at the Beijing Olympics.


The Henley-based club, located on the banks of the River Thames, founded in 1818, provided 15 of the 43-strong British Olympic rowing team.


All 15 reached finals in Beijing and, remarkably, 13 returned with medals.


The British rowing team enjoyed its most successful Olympics for a century, topping the medal table with two gold, two silver and two bronze.


The Leander athletes were thrown a celebration party in Henley, with thousands taking to the streets in glorious sunshine to applaud their home-town heroes.


The club already has over 3,000 social members while the applications for active rowing memberships have gone through the roof.


The club's head coach Mark Banks said: "We have doubled our numbers.


"We are having to whittle the numbers down because we can't cope.


"That even applies to people who are already here.


They are having to be directed elsewhere, to other rowing clubs, because the new people coming in have more potential.


"We have to be quite ruthless but the bar has to keep being raised.


"It is so true that success breeds success.


"This was our most successful Olympics for 100 years.


"It is difficult to say if our numbers are replicated across the board because there were 24 events at the Olympics and Britain was also successful at sports like cycling and sailing.


"But it will attract more people to the sport."


The junior ranks at nearby Henley Rowing Club are also swelling and the key for Banks is to ensure the sport builds on the spike in interest.


The Rugby Football Union, for example, has managed to maintain substantial growth in participation since England won the 2003 World Cup by developing key programmes aimed at junior ranks, teenagers and adults.


Double Olympic champion and Leander club captain Steve Williams said: "We are in the lucky position at the moment where we are getting the best money and resources ever and it looks like that will continue.


"It is critical because you can't buy gold medals but you do have to pay for them.


"British rowing are using that money at grass roots and something we are doing very well is developing the sport at that level."


The day of celebration began at Henley's River and Rowing Museum, where among those attending was Sir Matthew, who won four gold medals during his career and is now a presenter with BBC.


He said: "Today is about celebrating the best results we have ever had.


"We should take a huge amount of pride in what the crews have achieved."


The athletes then embarked on a row-past along the Thames and an open-top bus tour before receptions at the Town Hall and then back at Leander.


Williams said: "For a long time Leander has been the most successful Olympic sports club in the world and we didn't let ourselves down this time.


"The best thing for me is having the medal and the stories from Beijing and Athens and sharing them with everyone else.


"Seeing the town come out, and having everyone say how proud they are of us, means so much to us."


Williams, who won gold in Athens and Beijing, is the only member of the victorious men's four not to confirm whether he will continue rowing through to London 2012.


He said: "I have not had much chance to sit and look backwards.


"In rowing you don't commit for just one season - you have to commit for four years and I want to make sure I make a decision for the right reasons and for that I need a bit of time."